Seoul Campus

1. Cheonggyecheon (stream) Restoration

Date 2017-09-25 Writer ssunha
  • Urban Planning
  • Prof. Name Myunggu Kang
  • 2017-09-25
<Cheonggyecheon Restoration Module 1>
Hello everyone. We will talk about urban regeneration today. Throughout this course, we reviewed the basics of urban planning but today we will focus on Cheonggyecheon restoration. So today's topic is Cheonggyecheon restoration and urban regeneration. We will go over the background, overview and motivation for regeneration, and how to plan, how to make it happen in terms of the technological perspective. And finally, we will look at the achievements. Firstly, we need to explain the backgrounds like where Cheonggyecheon is located and its geographical characteristics. The area in the black box is the downtown area, which is also known as old town, above the Han river.

And there are three major urban centers in Seoul. The one on the top is the downtown, or the old town, area. The south-western part is Yeouido, the sub-center of Seoul. The south-eastern area is the Gangnam area, which is a newly developed urban center. Cheonggyecheon is located in the heart of the downtown area. The downtown area was established in 1392 as the Joseon Dynasty was established. You can see the major palaces in the northern parts, the Cheonggyecheon in the middle and the residential areas scattered in the surrounding area. Cheonggyecheon is the major source of water and also a major convergence of all the branch streams within the downtown area.
As you can see, there are 28 branches and all of the small streams converge to Cheonggyecheon and Cheonggyecheon flows into the Han river. From this picture, you can see the major characteristic of Cheonggyecheon. Cheonggyecheon is the lowest point of the downtown area, which means when rain falls, all the rain water flows into Cheonggyecheon. Throughout the history, the biggest challenge for Cheonggyecheon area was flooding. We will talk about this in detail in the later slide. Now we will look at life around the Cheonggyecheon area. This is the Cheonggyecheon area. As you see, Cheonggyecheon was one of the major sources for water in Seoul. It was used for drinking, washing and sometimes as a playground for kids. But as population grew in Seoul, a slum has developed around Cheonggyecheon.
This the iconic picture depicting the life around Cheonggyecheon in the 1960's. In the middle you can see a shared toilet because there was no infrastructure including drinking water, toilet, sewer system or electricity. They used a public toilet without any treatment system so Cheonggyecheon suffered from heavy pollution. In this picture, you can see the water for cleaning and bathing, which caused even more pollution due to waste water flowing through Cheonggyecheon. As a counter-measure to the problem of waste water, pollution and sanitation, the government decided to cover the area and turn Cheonggyecheon into a major sewer trunk system.
And also there was another need for a road. In this case, we built a road on top of Cheonggyecheon while the area underneath was used as a major sewer pipeline. Even further, the government built an elevated highway over Cheonggyecheon due to a high demand for transportation caused by traffic congestion. Elevated highway was built over the top of Cheonggyecheon, which became a major artery to and from the downtown area. In this picture, you cannot see the sewer system, but it is running under the road system, while above there are roads with more than twenty lanes of cars.
Here you can see how Cheonggyecheon has changed throughout history. Until the 1900's, the major challenge of the downtown area was the flooding of Cheonggyecheon. The major function of Cheonggyecheon is the drainage. So it was developed so that the rain water efficiently flows into Cheonggyecheon during heavy rain. After the 1900's, the problems such as pollution, sanitation and epidemic disease became an issue. So the Cheonggyecheon area was turned into a sewer and waste water treatment system and the elevated highway was built over Cheonggyecheon. This public space has been used as a major transportation artery until around the 2000's.
In the year 2000's there is a big paradigm shift from an efficient city to a more ecological city. So the Seoul government wanted to make its environment more ecological and human-oriented, And a big decision was made to restore Cheonggyecheon in the downtown area. This process is called a creative destruction, or a creative recreation, of public space. Cheonggyecheon has changed over time from a natural stream, drainage for flood prevention, sewer and roads, to a green pedestrian path across the city. Today we will specifically talk about the restoration process and the plan and technologies that were used.

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